It used to be that the only time a pregnant woman could hear her baby’s heart beat was when she went to her prenatal check-ups. Women who have experienced miscarriages or complications in previous pregnancies are often more anxious in subsequent pregnancies. Waiting between prenatal appointments for up-dates on their baby’s health can be nerve-wracking. However, parents can now have their worries laid to rest whenever anxious thoughts enter their minds thanks to fetal heart rate monitors now available for home use.
What Is It?
A fetal doppler monitor is what your health care provider uses to hear your baby’s heart rate at your prenatal appointments. These fetal monitors allow you and your family and friends to hear your baby’s heartbeat whenever you want in the privacy of your own home. A fetal baby heart monitor can provide parents with peace of mind as early as eight weeks into pregnancy, not just when they visit their health care provider. Many parents find fetal heart monitors invaluably reassuring and comforting, which is a great benefit for the majority of parents.
Ease Your Worry
A fetal heart rate monitor can also come in handy for those parents currently experiencing complications with a pregnancy. Having a fetal doppler at home allows parents to know a bit more about what’s going on with their baby. If you find yourself making frequent trips to the emergency room, having a doppler at home so that you can monitor your baby’s heart rate may help reduce the number of hospital trips you have to make.
How Does It Work?
These battery-operated, handheld instruments are easy to use - just place the doppler fetal heartbeat monitor just above your pubic bone and listen, tilting the probe at different angles until you find the amazig sound of your baby’s heartbeat. Usually, parents can hear the fetal heartbeat between the 10th and 12th week of pregnancy but have been known to find it as early as eight weeks.
Fetal heart monitors place no stress on your baby so they are safe to use during your pregnancy. Additionally, some fetal monitors allow you to record your baby’s heartbeat. You can download the recorded sounds onto your computer and e-mail it to friends and relatives.
Reading a fetal monitor is also fairly simple. If you are using a digital fetal monitor, then the number of heartbeats per minute will be displayed on a screen. For most other monitors, you just need to count the number of heartbeats you hear for ten seconds and then multiply that number by six to get the beats per minute. However, for many parents, just hearing the heartbeat is enough.
Revision date: June 11, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD